by Dan Smith
Shocked, stunned, saddened, sickened, bewildered and disgusted. All of those words describe how I felt when I first heard of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. The unbelievable carnage perpetuated by one whacked out kid is just impossible to deal with.
My first response was to wonder what in hell is going on? How did we come to this place where mindless slaughter is a part of life? I mean, after all, the killings at the mall in Oregon happened only a few days before the tragedy that took the lives of so many children at Sandy Hook Elementary. Is this our new normal?
My second response was the realization that my own generation is responsible for this. There was no such violence to mar the lives of our parents. No, this is a product of the post-war "me" generation.
It is difficult to admit, but all of this mindless killing is a result of something we either didn't do or something that we did do. Of course, the knee-jerk reaction of government officials is to come down hard on gun ownership. Do they really think those children died because of a lack in gun control laws? Ridiculous.
It has to go much deeper than that. The federal government cannot control weapons now that our country and the rest of the world is filled with them. Banning any type of gun will only create a black market bonanza for the criminal element in our society. When the U.S. ended the legal sale of alcohol it created a crime wave the likes of which has never been matched.
That is, not until they banned marijuana and drugs. Street drugs have become much more available since the war on drugs began and the resulting illegal trade has become a pox on the modern world.
Look, I was raised in the rural south where everyone had a gun. Back when I was a kid, I don't remember even one instance of anyone killing multiple victims they did not know. Sure, there were robberies and that sort of thing, but to just walk into a school and begin shooting? Unthinkable.
I suppose the first instance that I heard of was in 1966 when some nutcase climbed a tower at the University of Texas and began picking people off. We were all horrified when that happened, but we were certain it was a one-time thing and we would never see such violence ever again. Actually, it wasn't until 1984 when the next weirdo did his dirty work, but beginning in the 1990s we started to have a steady procession of random murders.
Now, it has become such a commonplace occurrence, we can only remember the most famous ones. Everyone knows about Columbine and Virginia Tech, but most of us have managed to drop the memory of the murders in Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998. Five people were killed and 10 were wounded. As recently as 2008, a massacre occurred at Northern Illinois University where five more were gunned down and 18 wounded, but we tend to forget about that, too. We have become jaded to the most horrible acts. Inconceivable.
What then caused our generation to make murder so random?
Each time something like Newtown happens there is always a lot of discussion, but few answers. To my way of thinking we must look at the basic family unit and the declining morals in our country.
Many of the shooters were lacking a solid father figure. I think the real trouble began when the American housewife entered the workplace. I realize this is not a very popular view, but children raised by daycare cannot have the family values of a household anchored by a stay at home mom. There is no substitute for a nurturing mother.
Many of the killers are said to have a high level of intelligence. Is it the sudden reality of discovering that without hard work their intelligence will only get them a very ordinary life? Could be, for nowadays every child thinks they deserve to live like a rock star.
Many of the politicians blame television and the media, but I can't buy into that, either. Even a crazy has to know that post-mortem fame is no reward. I also don't believe video games are to blame. Nope it has to come from something much more basic. Some sad flaw in our society. You know, I began this column with a string of words that described how I felt after the latest shootings. I forgot one. Heartsick.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, "The World's Greatest Beach" and "I Swear the Snook Drowned."